“Is The Wire one of, if not, THE best show ever to appear on television? Is it one of HBO’s best shows ever? Which is better: The Sopranos or The Wire?”
Get a bunch of guys and/or gangster flick movie buffs in a room together with a couple bottles of whiskey and these are all common questions that soon begin to surface. And being as how the show first aired in June 2002, I guess you gotta be kinda old too. But what do I know? I’m just your average fan too. I’m no movie or tv critic…
What’s the show about? The show is set in Baltimore, Maryland. It highlights the drug trade from top to bottom. It’s about life in the streets, which heavily involves the sale and distribution of narcotics like crack cocaine and heroin. But also depicts how drugs even come into the country in the first place. It’s a show that you “think” is just about drugs. But it’s so much more than that. It’s about life in the streets in general. It’s about the Baltimore City Police department and politics. It’s about poorly funded school system and the entire education system as a whole in inner city neighborhoods.
Bad Guys Can Be Heroes Too & Vice Versa
Like most great movies and television shows, there are heroes. But these aren’t heroes in the traditional sense. It’s subjective, isn’t it. How one person can be a hero in one scenario can mean something completely different in another scenario. And not to generalize too, too much. But that’s how The Wire is great. There are so many characters in the show that appear to be bad or evil upfront. Or they’re intended to be viewed that way by the audience. But in reality, they’re very much the “good guys.” They do the right thing. They stand by a particular code or book of ethics. In fact, the character of Omar Little (played by Michael K. Williams), one of his most famous quotes in the show is just that:
“A man gotta have a code, don’t he…”
As established, a key reason that Omar is an audience favorite is that he has some morals and lives by a code (as well as his trademark lines and brilliant quotes). For Omar, this code involves only harming and robbing from drug dealers and leaving innocent people out of it. This is seen often, as Omar is frequently kind and law-abiding to regular citizens, and even taking his Gran to church on Sundays. Omar also does not a curse, which is very rare for any character in the show. Omar uses this phrase in the episode “Wire” from Season 4. He says it to Bunk, in a reference to a lecture that Bunk gave to Omar back to an earlier season. In this scene, Omar is reaching out to the police to use his “get out of jail free” card after being owed a favor for testifying against Bird.
Omar Little is seen by many of the show’s fans and audience as a hero. As he so delicately put it during the same episode (above) when he was put on the stand for Bird’s murder, his profession is that he “robs drug dealers.”
But does that make him a “bad person?” Certainly not. Not that alone, anyways. And it’s subjective, isn’t it? You’re not completely a saint by robbing drug dealers. It’s implied that you’ve killed a couple people too, right? But as Omar also put it in another episode, he “never put his gun on anybody that wasn’t in The Game…”
So if Omar’s a hero in the show, is he the only one? What about other “good guys” that are maybe corrupt and evil behind closed doors?
The show certainly carries a lot of weight with both types of characters. And that’s a big part of what makes the show great! Because life is one big pile of bullshit. And so is politics and so can be the Education and Police system in America.
Now I’m not telling what you should believe/think/feel when it comes to politics, religion, etc. I have no words for you there. But I do think that The Wire is one of the greatest shows ever created. If you’re interested in finding out for yourself, I urge you! Find out for yourself. You can stream both for Free if you have an Amazon Prime or HBO GO membership.
The Show’s Writers Both Spent Time In Baltimore City’s Police Dept & School System
So they write with accuracy and experience. The show’s writers, David Simon and Ed Burns both worked for Baltimore’s police department for years. Ed Burns also worked as a school teacher in Baltimore for years. So the show carries substance and weight with the stories they tell.
It’s not nothing; it’s something.